Tuesday, February 5, 2013

How Much Should a Walker Be on Guard?

Generally, I don't worry much about possible dangers on a walk with Superdawg. One exception is in the springtime when the snakes resume slithering. When Sadie tries to pull us into an overgrown, grassy area, I try to pull her back while warning her, "Snaky, Sadie, Snaky. There might be snakes in that underbrush." Sadie pays no heed and pulls us as far into the wild as she can.

Superdawg is not without her own set of fears. Today when we set out down the block, some workers across the street started using some sort of power tool. She threw on the rear brakes. I coaxed her a few more houses down, and she heard the noise of someone pounding walls inside (probably putting up pictures). That was it; she would go no farther. I had to load her into the car and take her to another walking route near the community recreation center. I could have taken her to the beach, and we both would have enjoyed that, but I had not much time to spare before a dental appointment,

The fear trigger for Sadie is fireworks. We have lots of pyrotechnics during the summer, and not all of the displays are in public places like Broadway at the Beach or Pelicans' baseball games. Shooting off firecrackers in neighborhoods seems to be Great American Hobby in these parts. Sadie shakes like a leaf when she hears just one, and now anything that sounds remotely like fireworks (such as the drilling and hammering today) can make her fearful.

Those are our respective phobias. Are there more serious perils out there that should elicit my concern? Generally, I prefer to walk care-free, or if I have worries, let them dissolve with the walking. The immediate environs seem to be walker-friendly. However, we live in a world in which wackos appear at places you wouldn't expect, as recent tragic events demonstrate.

The closest I have come to fearfulness was on a few walks after dark when carloads of teens shouted at us derisively. It is not unimaginable that a group like that would view an old man and his dog as easy  prey. I have a hiking stick that would leave a knot upside at least one head. But should a walker carry other defense mechanisms -- a whistle, pepper spray, maybe even . . . a Zap Cane?

Yep, just doing some Web surfing I found at a "trend hunter" site something called a Zap Cane that evidently was invented with us well-seasoned walkers in mind. The promo states: "The interesting Zap Cane doubles as a stun gun that is guaranteed to knock out the attacker. The Zap Cane is adjustable from 32" to 36", rechargeable, and it even features an LED flashlight that helps with visibility at night. It may not be the most stylish walking cane, but it will definitely keep the elderly strolling safe."

Check it out at www.trendhunter.com/trends/the-Zap-Cane. I couldn't find what the price is. There also is a great variety of defensive gear at selfdefenseproducts.com

For the record, we now walk almost solely during the daylight hours. That's because of Sadie's fear of fireworks, and also because one walk a day is about all we old dawgs can handle anymore.

As far as what I might be packing on our walks, I ain't sayin', Bubba. But it is a shame our society has degenerated to the point one has to think so much about worst-case scenarios. I remember in my childhood walking for miles and miles through woodlands just outside Richmond, which didn't have so much suburban sprawl back then. And I did it solo -- without a dog, which I would never do today.

© Robert G. Holland 2013

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